Monday, June 6, 2016

Music Mantra Monday: Interview with Ben Miller (The Ben Miller Band)



For today’s Music Mantra, I am very excited to introduce The Ben Miller Band, who I recently had the pleasure of seeing. I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed listening to country blues music until I saw them. The heart and soul they put into their songs is inspirational, and you can see the passion they have as they play--I mean just check out the above video (listen to it while you read)!
Now, you all know that I am a huge fan of all kinds of music, and have reviewed many tastes. But even if you are stuck on that one category, you HAVE to check these guys out. 
In the meantime, sit back and enjoy my chat with Ben.
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CHYNNA: Thank you so much for being here, Ben. I'm so happy you found time in  your busy schedule to chat with us. Why don't we start with you telling us a little about yourself.
BEN: I guess that the short story of me would go something like: grew up in the middle of nowhere, went through school with no major trouble, decided to be a painter, changed my mind, decided to be a traveler of some sort, found a way to do that through playing music.  It's pretty hard to boil things down like that, but when I think about my life those are the broad strokes.

CHYNNA: I think you boiled it down pretty good, and it's always best to focus on the main pivitol points. When did you develop your talent for music and who inspired it?
BEN: I didn't show any talent for it growing up, really. I wrote poems and drew pictures, mostly.  I really loved to listen to music, though. My parents had a pretty good record collection that spanned from bluegrass to 1960's hippie stuff, and that impacted me a lot, mostly the lyrically dense stuff.  I started trying to make music when I went off to art school.  I was listening to a ton of early blues at that time (Charley Patton, Son House, John Hurt, Fred McDowell) and through trial and error, worked on imitating them.

CHYNNA: Wow! You were exposed to some amazing musical talent! I can see where your passion comes from. Please introduce the rest of your amazing band. And I plan to chat with them individually as they are able to, and they are willing. ;)
BEN: I am proud to be playing with three incredible musicians and people. I can honestly say I've never met anybody like any of them.  I've met a lot of people, met a lot of famous people and talented people, and I know that the group we have got together here is something special. I can see in them a kind of strength and power of personality that is a very rare thing.  Their names are Scott Leeper, "Smilin'" Bob Lewis and Rachel Ammons.

CHYNNA: Yes, I got that close bond vibe about you guys when I met you. That is a very rare thing and it comes across in your performance. How did you all get together?

BEN: Me and Scott played music together in a three piece, and when we lost a member the first thing to come to my mind was Rachel and Bob,

We had all known each other for years. They were friends, and were in a duo called t-chicken.  I was a big fan of everything they ever worked on. In fact, the first time I saw them playing I can still remember very clearly saying to myself, "Those guys got it".

CHYNNA: That is so cool! You have a very unique sound. How did you develop it?
BEN: I didn't really develop a sound, it's just a byproduct of everyone's sensibilities. I wish I could explain this better cause I get asked a lot, the best I can do is say that I didn't decide at some point that we are going to be this way or that way. That would be manufactured and I think there's some kind of backroom sneakiness to doing things that way, like you are trying to manipulate things too much.  This band grows like a plant--chooses its own shape. The best we can do for it is to provide the conditions it seems to do the best in, and then let it be whatever it becomes.

CHYNNA: That's so true. You kind of have to grow and expand as you do. That's what true artists do. Awesome. Let's talk about the fantastic album you created dedicated to the Joplin tornado. Can you share how this came about and how it’s going?
BEN: When the tornado hit Joplin, we just were heartbroken about how bad things were for the people who'd lost what they had.  It didn't take much thought to know one of the best ways we could help would be through music. We did a bunch of benefit concerts, and then talked to our friend Vance Powell (multi Grammy-winning producer) who is from Joplin and has a ton of Nashville connections. He got us the hook up to record down there and get everything done for printing at very little cost. We sold the records and donated the money to local businesses that had been destroyed.

CHYNNA: I think that is absolutely amazing, and such a generous thing to do. How fantastic is it to be able to use your talent to help others? Being on the road must be so hard. What do you do to cope with it?
BEN: I don't mind being on the road.  There are things that are exhausting, and kinda hard, but when I think about the grand scheme of things, what people have to do to make ends meet and survive, not only in this country but everywhere, it just seems like it would be in bad taste for me to entertain any kind of complaint about traveling around and playing songs for people.

CHYNNA: Very true. Plus, you seem to enjoy yourselves up there on stage so much! You seem like a true ‘family guy’ – whether with true family or with your band. I am too.
 How do you connect with that sense of yourself?
BEN: Hmmmm, Interesting question. I don't really know.  I think I have a really strong instinct to be in a group and work towards something.  I guess it's kinda a pack instinct.  

CHYNNA: Oh, I understand that 'pack instinct' very well. :) What do you each of you like to do on your ‘down times’?
BEN: I recently stopped thinking of my time being separated into working and not working.  It's been real eye opening. 

CHYNNA: Wow. What an interesting way of viewing that. I think I'll start trying to see things that way too. Might keep things a bit calmer around here. One question I always like to ask is if you have any pearls of wisdom to share.
BEN: I was thinking about this the other day as advice for anyone who might want to be a musician someday, here's what I can remember saying to myself:
~ make more than you spend or else spend less than you make
~ don't get married
~ don't get sick
~ don't get addicted to anything
~ be patient
~ try to keep your heart in the right place

CHYNNA: Those are some very valuable pearls, Ben. Thank you for sharing them with us. And thank you so much for joining us here today. I wish you tremendous success, but I think you are already there in so many ways.

Please click HERE for concert times and to learn a bit more about this band. They are also on FACEBOOK.

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Video trailer for BLACKBIRD FLIES!


Video Trailor for JUST SHUT UP and DRIVE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRr-vJ8W7YA